Skip to main content


Penn Medicine to Phase Out Sugary Drinks

By John Commins  
   August 13, 2018

The health system wants the food it serves to align with its missions to care for and educate patients with heart disease, diabetes, and obesity-related chronic illnesses.

About a decade ago, hospitals across the nation eliminated designated smoking areas and banned smoking campus-wide.

A few years after that, many hospitals booted fast-food restaurants, too, noting that the cheese fries and double-hamburgers were not conducive to good health.

In the coming months, the University of Pennsylvania Health System will take the healthy foods initiative a step further and phase out the sale of sugary drinks on its campuses, noting the direct link between the sweet beverages and the increased risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

The list of banned added-sugar beverages takes effect over the next several months and will include regular soda, fruit-flavored drinks, sports drinks, and sweetened milk, tea and coffee drinks. Diet and unsweetened beverages, 100% fruit juice, milk and flavored-waters will still be available, Penn Health said.

"As a health system, we aspire to create a model environment for the health and wellness of our patients, their families, and our employees, an effort which extends to the food and drinks we serve in our cafeterias, snack bars, coffee stands, and vending machines," Penn Medicine CEO Ralph Muller said in a media release.

"Our work to prevent and care for patients with chronic conditions impacted by their diets includes educating them on healthy food and beverage choices—lessons which we believe should be mirrored by what we serve in our facilities," he said.

Penn Health said patients, visitors and staff will still be able to bring their own sugary drinks on campus, and third-party vendors within hospitals—such as Starbucks—will continue to serve sweetened drinks, such as the sugar-infused Gingerbread Frappuccinos, which can contain up to 70 grams of sugar.

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


Penn Medicine will ban the sale of sugary drinks on campus, noting the link between the drinks and chronic illnesses.

The banned drinks will include regular soda, fruit-flavored drinks, sports drinks, and sweetened milk, teas and coffees.

The health system says it wants its food to align with their mission to improve community health.

Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.